Red Line Subsidy Increase a Harbinger of Proposition 1 Problems

The recently approved CapMetro budget for fiscal year 2015 included an increase in operating subsidy for a single boarding on the MetroRail RedLine, placing it above $20.  In contrast, the average bus per-boarding subsidy is $4, but is closer to $1 on the most productive bus routes.

“The operating losses we see for the Red Line are the same type of losses that will play out with Proposition 1 rail, but on a much larger scale,” said AURA member Kevin Miller. “The proposed route goes through low-density areas, but it has high fixed costs. The rail will siphon money away from bus service, reducing ridership and likely leading to cuts in bus service. Let’s not condemn ourselves to repeating another unforced error.” Miller is the author and maintainer of, a website that details the pro-transit argument against the road-and-rail package on this November’s ballot.

AURA member Niran Babalola stressed the importance of learning from the operational history of the Red Line. “Voting ‘No’ on Prop 1 is not about waiting for a perfect plan. The starter rail line in Houston moves more people per dollar than the bus lines they replaced. That’s a plan worth voting for. Prop 1 is worse than nothing because it hurts system ridership, just like the existing Red Line does.”

AURA is a grassroots urbanist organization focused on building an Austin for everyone by improving land use and transportation through policy analysis, public involvement, and political engagement.


  • Brad Absalom, AURA Project Connect Central Corridor Working Group Chair:, 214-236-3293
  • Kevin Miller, AURA Project Connect Central Corridor Working Group:, 512-560-5208